Rowing across Lake Batur at the base of Mt Batur with a 360-degree view in Bali.
The journey begins in a small village called Trunyan led and rowed by a local villager. A boat rowing across the water is the only way to the village Temple Temple and the Magic Tree.
Traditionally, the Balinese are cremated during a village ceremony. In Trunyan, the deceased are laid beneath a tree nearly a thousand years old and left to decay. It is said this tree has magic powers to protect the deceased and keep the odour away. This very same tree helps the souls from the body leave this life and move onto the next. During my visit, there were three bodies whose souls had departed. Skulls from ancestors were strewn about and some neatly lined across a wall area.
What I thought would be a gruesome sight was spiritual in nature and comforting. Coolness in the air freshened the memorial and the towering “magic tree” shaded the area in filtered sombre light. Additionally, the Balinese will leave some of the favourite things of the deceased. Perhaps a favoured drink or clothing or artefact. Each “gravesite” is decorated in some sort of fashion and a bamboo cage-like structure is placed over the body.
Hindus view death differently than Westerners as they believe there is rebirth into the same family. There is a comforting notion in this if your family is wonderful, though it’s safe to say the Balinese view family differently than Westerners.
The boat ride toward the Temple and the magic tree is quiet. There is no motor on the boat because the lake is sacred. A man at the front of the large boat and another in the back gently row us to the burial site. On one side of the boat, the active Mount Batur is across the lake in the distance. On the other side are high rocky cliffs with lush tropical foliage dangling into the water.
Very few tourists make this journey as you have to go to know the magic tree exists and you have to know how to drive to the small Trunyan village. The road to Trunyan veers from the main road and then there are many twists and turns on a narrow road that is also quite hilly. Expect to feel as if you’re on a roller coaster that hugs Lake Batur.
The entire journey, magic tree included, is not for the faint of heart. If you are up for a fascinating lesson in Balinese Hinduism, then be sure to make your way to Trunyan. Ask a local to escort you. You won’t be disappointed.
Destination: Bali Indonesia